Whether your department is called “Marketing,” or “Creative Services,” your prime directive is probably the promotion of the company’s core products and services. If your team is anything like mine, there is also no shortage of second tier jobs such as promoting initiatives for a particular department and creating materials promoting social and volunteering activities. Sprinkle in a few vanity projects for the folks upstairs, and your plate is more than full.
So the big questions are: 1. Is it important to promote your own department?
2. How do you promote your own department?
My answer to the first question is: YES! It’s not only important, it’s critical to promote your department within your own organization. The reasons to promote your department are similar to the reasons why anyone in business promotes himself: communicate your value, stay top-of-mind with current customers and reach prospects who may not have heard of you. And to answer the second question, I have listed some examples that have worked for my team.
Communicate your value. Aside from the tangible deliverables you produce, have you ever communicated your value to your company? You’re deeply invested in the company’s success and unlike an outside agency, you know your brand better than anyone else and so are in a unique position to see its strengths and weaknesses. Plus, creative folks think differently and can bring ideas to the table that people from other areas of the company wouldn’t.
Job security. No matter the size of your department, outside agencies are probably part of the picture and at every opportunity they’ll be looking to grow their business. You may find yourself directly competing for work. But even if they’re top of mind with your clients, you’ll be your clients’ first choice — not an afterthought — because they don’t have budget to go outside.
Be a consultant, not a vendor. Often in-house groups can be seen as providers. Ever been asked “just make it pretty and don’t spend too long on it?” My team started to move away from being perceived as just a vendor when we began to present the concept the client requested along with our concept. The clients inevitably chose our option and after a while, stopped putting in requests and started asking us to come up with the solutions.
Strengthen alliances. We all have difficult clients; it goes with the job. But you also probably have clients who share your vision for the brand and get excited when they see good work. By promoting the work you’ve done for these people – which is probably some of your best – others become aware of the possibilities and want them too. No client wants to be the ugly duckling of the company with the dated brochure or ineffective landing page. I’ve seen it happen with my team. One or two initial clients give you a chance to prove yourself, and the snowball starts rolling downhill and gathering momentum. Soon clients from all over the organization will be beating down your door for the good stuff.
How Can You Promote Your Department?
Open house event. An open house is a great way to get to know people who you usually converse with only via email and phone. For our event, we displayed samples of work, created a slide show screensaver and distributed a giveaway with some facts about the work we do.
Teaching opportunities. Helping your clients is a great way to elevate your profile. One of my designers is in the process of creating a presentation that teaches best practices for PowerPoint. Our clients are empowered; we’re seen as experts; and we see a decline in starbursts and crazy slide transitions. Hopefully.
Thank you cards. A handwritten note carries a lot of weight in the age of electronic communication so my team set about creating a series of greeting cards to send out to clients with messages that range from “Happy Birthday” to “Congratulations” and a simple “Thank You.”
Award shows. Having professional organizations such AIGA or AMA validate your work is a good way to build credibility with clients. So if you enter award shows, and your work is recognized, send out an email to your clients or even the entire company, invite your client to the award show or even, as my team did, get a duplicate award for the client.
A key to success in promoting yourself is consistency. You should be constantly promoting your team throughout the year, and if you come from an authentic place dedicated to do better work and serve your company better, you’ll see it pay off.
Get your work recognized with the In-House Design Awards. It’s the competition that’s exclusively for in-house designers.
Plus, this year’s Best in Show winner will also land a trip to HOW Design Live next year in Chicago.